Before and After: A $750 IKEA Hack Turns a Dining Space’s Awkward Extra Doorway into Functional Storage

published Nov 23, 2022
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About this before & after
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Before: a long marble table leading to a dining table next to two glass doors

Not every home has glaring problems, like small, dingy bathrooms or dark, oddly-constructed bedrooms. But you don’t have to have a long list of major renovations to wish your home functioned better for you.

Take it from Sam Mogelonsky, who found that the way the historical home she shares with her partner Mat Calverley was constructed posed functional challenges. The area, for instance, lacked usable wall space, instead featuring multiple entrances to the patio area.

“This particular set of doors was awkward, as it lead out to the part of our patio where we were storing gardening tools, so not the best view,” Sam explains of the entryway right behind where the dining table sat. The ultra-low existing light fixture also made the ceilings feel lower, adding to the sense that the whole space was closing in.

Aside from all that, the setup wasn’t adding any value to the space. Rather than superfluous doors to nowhere, what the couple really needed was more storage for dishes, glasses, and table linens, as well as a space for a bar.

The makeover of the dining area started with the lighting, which Sam hoped to replace with something that gave the illusion of more space. The new fixture has a more modern squiggle style that’s low profile enough to maintain clear sight lines. Next, Sam wondered if there was a way to get the storage she really needed, so she browsed antique hutches and cabinets to try to find something that fit the deep doorway’s exact dimensions so that it would sit flush with the surrounding walls.

When Sam’s search for something ready-made reached a dead end, she started to look at how she could create something for the space instead. “We decided on the IKEA Billy bookcase units with the glass up top to show off our glassware and plates, but wanted the bottom half covered to hide less exciting items like linens,” says Sam. “The two units fit perfectly, but there was a gap in the middle.”

A third and more narrow BILLY was a possible option, but it proved to still be a bit too big for the space allotted. “We went online and got super lucky,” says Sam. “There was a stackable wooden wine rack on Amazon that we were able to snuggly nestle in between the two shelves.” That just needed to be painted white to match the rest of the unit.

“Installing the BILLY was pretty straightforward,” says Sam. “We used deck screws to secure them to the walls for more stability. The unit was also wired with lights on a dimmer, and provides the light that was lost by blocking this doorway.” To elevate the whole thing, Sam and Mat also switched out the white IKEA pulls with antique-style pewter ones to match the fixtures in the rest of the unit. Total cost: $1,000 CAD (about $750 US), though the results look way more expensive, thanks to the already existing casing that the couple was able to take advantage of.

The end result is a perfect-fit unit that looks like it was always meant to be there — and betrays no hint of the doors that lie behind it. “We love how seamless it is,” says Sam of the new shelving. “Because it’s all white and fits within the existing mouldings, guests think it’s a built-in, and much more expensive than the whole project was,” she says. “We also love the additional storage, which is so useful in a condo.”